The Daily Herald writes that the functioning and pending resignation of National Government Representative (“Rijksvertegenwoordiger”) for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba Wilbert Stolte will be the subject of a yet-to-beplanned plenary debate in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. A date has yet to be set for this so-called 30 Member Debate, which was requested by Member of the Second Chamber Wassila Hachchi of the Democratic Party D66. Hachchi said she expected the debate to be held before May 1, Stolte’s date of resignation. However, this remains to be seen, because of Parliament’s packed agenda. It may take months before the debate is put on the agenda.
Hachchi requested the debate during the daily socalled Order of Activities (“Regeling van Werkzaamheden”) on Tuesday. She received support from the Socialist Party (SP), Party for Freedom PVV, the green left party GroenLinks, the reformed party SGP and the Party for Animals PvdD. Ronald van Raak of the SP said the Minister had been wrong for keeping the ISB report from Parliament. “That is unacceptable, so I support a debate,” he said. Martin Bosma of the PVV gave the issue another twist. “Let’s at the same time set a date to get rid of the former Antilles,” he said.
Hachchi had initially requested to pose a question during the weekly Question Hour (“Vragenuurtje”), but because this request had been turned down, she decided to ask for a debate during the Order of Activities to seek clarity on the report of the Inspection, Signalling and Guidance ISB, an independent unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the execution of tasks
of the Dutch Government on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. According to Hachchi the ISB report is “devastating” for Stolte. The ISB researchers concluded that Stolte barely functioned and that his relation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, as well as with the three public entities was not good.
The ISB recommended Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk to arrange Stolte’s immediate departure and to appoint an interim National Government Representative to “restore tranquillity.” D66, but also the SP, are upset about the fact that Plasterk didn’t send the report, which was presented to the Minister in November last year, to the Second Chamber right away. Plasterk sent the report to Parliament on Friday after it was leaked to the media. “We were very surprised that we hadn’t received the report. Why didn’t he send the report linea-recta to Parliament,” Hachchi told The Daily Herald in an invited comment.
Hachchi said that her party had “many questions” about the way the Minister handled this report. She said ISB’s recommendation was a “clear advice.” “The Minister has to explain why he didn’t heed the advice,” she said. The Member of Parliament (MP) remarked that D66 had already sought clarity on Stolte’s position last year, following reports in the media about the poor functioning and alleged conflict of interest of the National Government Representative.
Plasterk informed Parliament in September last year that Stolte would resign per May 1, 2014. D66 demanded a more transparent procedure to appoint the National Government Representative. Plasterk informed Parliament that a three-member committee of which Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson is a member, would draft a profile for this function. The coalition parties, the liberal democratic VVD party and the Labour Party PvdA, didn’t support Hachchi’s proposal for a debate.
MP Pieter Litjens said that a separate debate with the Minister on this issue was not necessary as a general debate on issues dealing with the Caribbean Netherlands was already planned for March 13. “We can discuss the position of the national Government Representative during that meeting,” Litjens said. MP Roelof van Laar of the PvdA said he shared the view of the VVD. He added that the Minister had started the process for the evaluation of the coordination and execution of tasks of the Dutch Government on and on behalf of the three public entities. As such, Van Laar deemed a debate on Stolte’s position premature.
Hachchi remained steadfast: a debate was warranted, this was an important, urgent matter as it concerned the position of the National Government Representative and the general interest of the islands. She said the evaluation and Stolte’s performance as described in the ISB report were two totally separated issues. “It is time to enter into a debate with the Minister,” she said.